Pennsylvania pandemic unemployment

Pennsylvania pandemic unemployment DEFAULT

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry: Important Updates related to COVID-19 (PA Dept. of Labor & Industry)

The resource listed above from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry appears below. The column to the left contains links to other individual resources from the source listed. You can also view all the resources in order by utilizing the <<Previous and Next>> links at the bottom of the page. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Important Updates related to COVID-19 (PA Dept. of Labor & Industry)

Authored By: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers' Compensation benefits. The Department of Labor & Industry will continue to provide important employment benefit updates on this page as the situation evolves.

Last Review and Update: Sep 30, 2021


Pandemic unemployment benefits end: Here’s how Pennsylvanians can still get help

PENNSYLVANIA — That extra $300 a week that unemployment recipients have been getting came to an end.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment relief benefits expired, meaning the last week for recipients to apply was Sunday. Nearly 560,000 Pennsylvanians will be impacted.

>>RELATED STORY:Here’s how to file for unemployment in Pennsylvania

The programs ending include the following:

  • (PEUC) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance, which extended benefits for those whose regular employment ran out
  • (PUA) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provided benefits to the self-employed
  • (FPUC) Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provided that extra $300 a week to most unemployment recipients

A blow to those struggling

It’s a blow to those still struggling, especially after the trouble so many have faced applying and getting benefits through the PA Unemployment Compensation System.

“It’s been a struggle from day one. I’d get a lump sum, and then I wouldn’t get it. I have had nothing but problems,” said Robin Woods, who lost her job of 20 years right in the middle of the pandemic.

Woods is among those who will lose that $300 a week in extra compensation. She said she has mixed feelings about the program ending, because it’s helped many in need, but she is concerned about businesses having trouble finding employees.

Help still available

The state Department of Labor and Industry said there are many resources available for those in need.

The Department of Human Services offers a variety of assistance programs, including the following:

  • The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care

Applications for ERAP, Medicaid, SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at SNAP and Medical Assistance applications can also be submitted over the phone by calling 1-866-550-4355.

Applying for Regular Unemployment Compensation

Woods said she continues to experience difficulties applying for her regular unemployment compensation.

The latest issue was her attempt to sign up for, the state’s new identity theft protection component for unemployment. She went to her local library and her state representative for help, but still couldn’t get it to work.

“We tried over and over again. We did the whole facial scan, and it will not verify me,” she said.

A PA Unemployment Compensation customer service representative helped her to apply for her benefits this past week, but she is not sure what to do moving forward.

Woods wrote to for help but got a generic email response with tips, which have not helped. 11 Investigates also contacted, and we are still waiting for a response.

Moving on

Woods said she will be glad when she no longer needs to apply for unemployment. She is working on establishing her own business teaching biking safety in her community.

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Justice News

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of New Castle, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court on a charge of fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

Tylan Huddleston, 24, was sentenced to six months of incarceration followed by two years of supervised release by United States District Judge David Cercone.

On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to be an emergency under Section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford disaster Relief and Emergency Act. Subsequently, on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (which is frequently referred to as the CARES Act) was signed into law. The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provided unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended unemployment benefits. The CARES Act also provided an emergency increase in unemployment compensation benefits of $600.00 per week.

According to information provided to the court, Huddleston conspired with another individual to commit mail fraud to obtain $13,905 in connection with pandemic unemployment assistance benefits while he was incarcerated awaiting trial on state charges.

“Tylan Huddleston conspired to defraud the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program by having his co-conspirator fraudulently file for and receive benefits on his behalf while Huddleston was incarcerated at Lawrence County Jail. The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General will continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and our law enforcement partners, to safeguard the integrity of all unemployment assistance programs,” stated Syreeta Scott, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan D. Lusty prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. 

The United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Tylan Huddleston.

What to Do If Your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Payments Stop Coming In - NBC10 Philadelphia

Federal unemployment benefits are ending. Here's where you need to go for additional help

Federal unemployment benefits for 558,000 Pennsylvanians will end Sept. 4, including the $300 additional weekly payment for all claimants, and state officials are again urging residents to seek help for whatever assistance they might need.  

Pennsylvania Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier reiterated previous warnings about the end of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistant (PUA) programs, saying at a Monday news conference that the change impacts not only those receiving the additional $300, whether they are under the PUA or not, but also gig workers, independent contractors and business owners.  

“These programs have literally been a lifesaver to Pennsylvanians,” Berrier said. “They’ve helped Pennsylvanians buy food, pay bills, get medicine and pay for housing and that money was also invested into local communities and helped local businesses remain afloat.” 

Pa. Secretary of Labor & Industry Jennifer Berrier said Monday that the $300 additional weekly unemployment benefit ends for all claimants on Sept. 4, regardless if they are receiving federal or state unemployment assistance.

Since the economy began reopening following pandemic restrictions, many businesses have struggled to attract workers, particularly in the service industry. Some eateries are so short-staffed that they have stopped dining service and focused on take-out and delivery, while others have had to temporarily close. 

Berrier cautioned, though, that businesses and customers probably should not expect workers to flood the job market because there still remain other obstacles to people to return to work, such as a lack of childcare and the fear of the COVID-19 Delta variant.  

“There are many reasons,” she said.

More:Federal pandemic unemployment benefits end next month in Pa. What to know.

More:Unemployment fraud on the rise in Pa. Here's what to look for

Where to go for help 

“There should be no shame or stigma in asking for help,” said Inez Titus, the state Department of Human Services' deputy secretary of the Office of Income Maintenance.

Claimants affected by the end of the PUA benefits should visit the state Department of Human Services website at for information on health, medical, and childcare benefit programs, Berrier said.

The state’s PUA hotline (855-284-8545) will remain open for two weeks after Sept. 4. Once it closes, PUA claimants should call the regular unemployment compensation number (888-313-7284) for help.

The agency said in a statement that Pennsylvanians can file for a final week of benefits through the PUA during the week ending Sept. 11. 

Also, the department said unemployment compensation will be limited to 26 weeks once the federal extension ends. The maximum available is $580 a week.

Those needing help finding work can go to to find a county PA CareerLink office and other information on services, such as job openings and resume writing. 

“We want individuals affected by the end of the federal programs to be as prepared as possible,” Berrier said. 

Inez Titus, the Department of Human Services’ deputy secretary for the Office of Income Maintenance, also appeared with Berrier and said that anyone losing federal benefits “should know that help is available” through her department.  

Resources available from Human Services include information on Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care Works.  

Applications for assistance can be submitted at  

Titus noted that a national eviction moratorium has been lifted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision, but that her department still offers assistance through the Eviction and Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).  

“There should be no shame or stigma in asking for help,” she said.  

More:Pa. eviction moratorium set to end. What renters, landlords need to know

When the pandemic began ravaging Pennsylvania’s economy in 2020, her department experienced a “tsunami of claims” as hundreds of thousands of people found themselves out of work.  

Labor & Industry has struggled ever since with a backlog of claims, but Berrier said Monday that the number of claims waiting for action has fallen from 325,000 in June to 190,000 after the implementation of the new unemployment compensation system.  

She said questions about a claimant’s eligibility and an employer contesting a claim are the two most frequent reasons for cases to become backlogged.

“We are working as quickly as we can,” she said. 

More:Having problems with Pa. new unemployment system? Know these tips

J.D. Prose is a reporter for the USA TODA Network's Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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What you need to know about Pennsylvania’s new unemployment system

What to expect

In order to avoid issues, state officials have released a swath of tutorials and information to help users navigate the new system, which is slated to open on June 8.

“I hope our users take a little time to check out the new system before it launches, so they feel comfortable logging in,” Berrier said on May 28. Starting Tuesday, the system will resume taking both new and continuing unemployment claims, both of which are currently paused during the transition period.

Online tutorials are available in English and Spanish. The Department of Labor and Industry is hosting a series of live workshops, which are also recorded, in which recipients and employers can learn more about the new system.

Information about widespread glitches will be shared on the department’s social media channels, or communicated directly to users, said Berrier.

Expecting a high volume of users on June 8, the state has instituted a “waiting room” function when claimants log on, to keep the system from crashing.

“If you can afford to wait a few days, wait a few days,” said Simon-Mishel, explaining that will give the state more time to work out initial bugs, and that the wait times should be lower.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance has published its own online reference database, which will also be surveying users about their experiences, as well as sharing news and information about glitches and fixes.

To help deal with the transition, Pennsylvania hired 500 customer-service staff to take questions, who will be trained and ready in time for June 8, according to Berrier. The UC Service Center number is 888-313-7284.

Claimants who run into trouble filing online, or who normally file over the phone, will still be able to do so starting on June 10. The number to call will be 888-255-4728 for English or 877-888-8104 for Spanish.

The first few weeks will likely be bumpy, both state and nonprofit advocates noted, but all said they hoped the new technology would eventually improve service.

“Technology changes will always have problems, even if you do a top-notch job,” said Simon-Mishel.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

What to Do If Your Unemployment Benefits Suddenly Stop - NBC10 Philadelphia

For 35 years, Mike Miller and his wife, Marie, earned a living by singing in nursing homes, and entertaining seniors with covers of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. COVID-19 dried up their business, but the Millers didn’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits because they’re self-employed.

They were lucky in being able to rely on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a federal program that provides aid to those who don’t typically qualify for unemployment compensation. The federal help was a “godsend,” Mike Miller said, helping the couple pay the mortgage, car loan, and other bills. Nursing homes still haven’t allowed the entertainers to return because of the virus, he said.

» READ MORE: Enhanced federal unemployment benefits for the pandemic end. Here are the assistance programs that can still help.

“It really got us through the past year,” said Miller, 69, of Erie. “And it’s now stopped.”

The Millers are among the millions of Americans who lost their jobless benefits this week when federal programs put in place during the pandemic expired over Labor Day weekend. More than 11 million people were cut off, by one estimate from Oxford Economics. More than 653,000 Pennsylvania workers lost all or some of their benefits, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry. Almost 400,000 New Jersey workers were affected, according to projections in August by the Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank.

In addition to PUA, another federal program that gave benefits to those unemployed for more than six months ended Monday. A $300 weekly supplemental benefit also ran out. And an extra $100 a week to people with at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment expired.

All told, the federal government injected roughly $650 billion into jobless benefits since the pandemic, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Although the White House has encouraged states to keep paying the $300 weekly benefit by using money from federal stimulus bills, no states had done so as of Monday. Many states even opted out of the federal program early after some businesses complained that they couldn’t find enough people to hire. Data have shown minimal economic benefits from cutting off aid early in those states.

The ending of these programs comes as the U.S. economy has recovered from the pandemic, but with substantial gaps in the recovery. The Labor Department says there are still 5.7 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. Yet the department also estimated, last month, that there were roughly 10 million job openings.

Pennsylvania workers losing the aid said they’re preparing to cut expenses or dip into their savings to get by. They said they haven’t found jobs in their industries or are unable to work for other reasons.

Dean Webley, a 53-year-old from Belmont Village in Philadelphia, runs a business selling such leather goods as wallets and pocketbooks. She sells items online, but has seen far fewer customers at flea markets or her home since the pandemic. She collected nearly $500 a week in federal unemployment benefits until Monday, but the market for her business still has not recovered, Webley said.

Making matters worse, her son was sent home to study remotely this week after a teacher tested positive for COVID-19, she said. Being available for her son is one reason why it makes no sense, for now, to take a low-wage job outside her industry, she said.

“I might at some point in time, if things get bad, desperate,” she added.

Miller, the singer, said he and his wife collected almost $1,000 a week in combined unemployment benefits, more than the $800 a week they earned playing shows. They will use some of their savings and Social Security benefits to get by, but are unsure how far that will get them.

If coronavirus cases had continued to decline, this week would have been a good time to sunset the federal benefits, Miller said.

“But with this other variant happening and the hospitals around here are getting full, it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “We’re almost back to where we were last summer with the infections and stuff and people dying, and they cut off the needed benefit. I don’t understand the reasoning behind that.”

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

    Christian Hetrick

    I cover consumer issues, Comcast, and how Philly could emerge from decades of struggle and adapt to a changing economy through our Future of Work project.


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